My husband David thinks I'm beautiful--- just one of many reasons why this marriage has survived since,
oh, roughly the Paleocene period. Others may not share his excellent good taste
but who cares? I still get all girly giggling when he says romantic things
like, "You're not half-bad looking today," which is Norwegian for "Goddess of
beauty and grace, your light doth eclipse the noonday sun!" It's true. I
understand Romantic Norwegian, a language even more arcane than Sanskrit and
currently threatened with extinction due to a lack of native speakers. (Yes, I'm talking to you, David.)
Alas, we can't all be "not half-bad looking" and this month
I'm celebrating the Ugh-mo's of the world. Heroes and heroines who aren't going
to fall under anyone's definition of classic beauty. Some are flat-out
"Nah-uh," others are simply "Nyet." But all of them are spectacular and, in the
way of all great romances, each attains the transformative beauty only seen by
a loving heart.
Let the Ugli-thon commence!
Wilder by Christina Dodd
You had a thing for Beauty and the Beast's Vincent, didn't
you? So did Christina Dodd. But in Dodd's hands, the trope sheds all the dreary
angst-ing (did I say that? Sorry younger
Connie. Older Connie isn't as tolerant of pining as you) and substitutes it
with pulse-pounding action, dry wit, and
passion. Set in modern day Manhattan, Beast Aleksandr joins forces with Goth
warrior-princess (aka Beauty) Charisma to freaking save the world from Satan. Wilder
brings to a close Dodd's popular CHOSEN series. What a way to go!
The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James
Eloisa James delivers another Happily Ever After homage,
this time transporting the Ugly Duckling story to regency England where a
rebellious young man is coerced into marrying his father's "unusual looking"
ward in order to cover up Daddy's theft of her dowry. Problem is poor Daisy
believes best friend James is proposing out of love. After the wedding, when
she finds out otherwise, she kicks him out and reinvents herself as an
independent fashion icon. That's right, "poor"
Daisy no more! No one charts the intricacies of a conflicted heart better than
James. And when James returns after seven years as a pirate, watching this pair
rediscover one another and finally get one of the romance genre's most "wrong" wedding nights right is pure bliss.
Ember by Bettie Sharpe
Now for something a little twisted. Heck, a lot twisted. A
friend turned me on to this self-published novel and I am so glad she did.
First, because EMBER is a primo example of the wacky, crazy good ideas and wildly inventive stories a writer can come up
with when no one's looking over her shoulder. Second, because I read the whole
book with my mouth ajar, half the time in a goofy smile and half the time in
the proscribed manner of one who's not quite believing what she's reading. This riff on Cinderella, where the title character Ember is neither beauty nor a dear, and Prince Charming is cursed by his winning ways, is a fabulous leap out of the box. It's raunchy and bold and unique and I loved it. That said, this x-rated novel might not be
everyone's cup of tea. It's like getting served Everclear when you were
The Birthday Scandal by Leigh Michaels
Furriness, gawkiness and a freckle bodysuit don't have a
lock on being the ultimate obstacle to true love. The past can offer up a
pretty big hurdle, too, as in the case of Leigh Michaels' rotten good
historical, The Birthday Scandal. Like an Agatha Christie house party, only one
where romance, rather than murder, is the focal point. This
fantastic story features a whole crew of wonderful, fully-fleshed characters
trying to dodge the cupid's arrows an ancient uncle is hurling at them"”despite
some pretty "ugly" moments the past offers up. Simply delicious!